When Asia is finally somewhat composed, she returns her brother, Saul’s call. Just as predicted, he knows more about their parent’s death than she or her other brother. Evidently, her father died first and when
her mother found out, she died too. It seems they both died peacefully and she was glad for that. Oh they each had their own ailments that come with old age, but they overcame them with grace and strength. She thinks her mother was just waiting for her father to die, then she probably just gave up. Both of her parents are up in age, her father was eighty- two, and her mother, seventy-nine. Even though they both had lived long and prosperous lives, Asia is still sad. At least she thinks, like her sister, they don’t have to deal with the trials and tribulations of these end days and times. Things are getting really bad. She’s lost in these thoughts when her brother’s voice breaks her out of them and brings her back to what he’s saying. He’s talking about making funeral arrangements for their parents and asks, “when can you come into the city? We need to begin making the arrangements as soon as possible”. Bending her head down and running her hand across her face, she responds with rapid questions and statements, “did you speak to Cane? I’ll try to get to the city as soon as I can. How is it down there after the storm? They said this was one of the worst hurricanes to hit the northeast coast. Troy and I sustained quite some damage”. “Well, sis, the city got hit hard. There’s extensive damage everywhere, so it’s going to be difficult getting anything done”, he replies with a sigh. The phone
conversation drones on with Asia saying that she’ll try her best to make it to the city as soon as she can and she’ll let him know when she does. After talking to her brother, Asia’s mind is racing with a myriad of questions and thoughts while she experiences many different feelings. She’s mystified for a moment and is not sure what to do first. So she goes back to her bed and lies down to get herself together. Troy is right there by her side and says, “Babe just tell me what I can do”. “I will, hon, but first let me get some rest to help clear my head”, she responds and closes her eyes. It takes her a little while, but she finally dozes off to sleep. As soon as she does, she begins dreaming, and it’s the Mark of the beast dream. The dream is too much for her to handle at this particular time, and Asia jerks herself awake. She sits straight up in bed and looks around. It takes another minute or two for her to get her bearings before realizing she’s home from work today because of the hurricane. Troy hears her stirring and comes into the room and says, “that was a fast nap”. “Troy she exasperatingly says, “I’ve been having the Mark of the Beast nightmare again”. “You have? When did it start?” “It started last night, but I didn’t get a chance to tell you because of the hurricane, and then the news of my parents, and all that has distracted me”. “Wow, Babe, this is a lot”. “I know, now I have to get to the city as soon as I can”. “I know what you mean, Babe. I’ve been thinking about that and just as long as the roads are passable and we’re allowed to travel, then we can go tomorrow”. “Oh Troy, do you think so?” “Yeah, the car has a full tank of gas, plus we have five or six canisters of gas stored in the shed”. Asia jumps up and hugs her husband giving him a kiss on the cheek. He tightly hugs her back and turns her face to face with him and kisses her on the mouth. The hug and kiss lasts for a
wonderfully needed minute or two.
Troy tells his wife to go back to bed and try to get some rest. He’s going to get started with the travel preparations. Even though she knows she’s going to need a lot of rest and strength for the days ahead, Asia could not and did not want to go back to sleep. And she says, “No, hon, I can’t sleep even if I wanted to. I might as well help you with what
needs to be done”. “Okay, well I’m gonna get started with surveying our land and see how bad the damage is”. “Alright, and I’ll start getting my, yours and the boy’s clothes together. We’re going to need clothes to travel in and clothes to wear to the funeral”, she says as Beary comes out of the room and asks, “mommy, are you okay?” “Yes, honey, mommy’s okay. Thanks for asking!” And Asia gives her son a big hug, now feeling a little better and smiling. Continuing with, “go get your big brother and you two come back here to my room”. “Okay”, he says and does what he’s told. When both Junior and Beary are in front of her, Asia explains to them that they all have to go to the city tomorrow to make plans for Grammy and Gramps funeral. Troy gets his chain saw and begins his outside work, and Asia begins ironing clothes.
By now the storm is winding down in their neck of the woods with just a few sprinkles left here and there. Even though the electricity is still off, they have some power because their generators are working well. So Asia is able to fix a hot dinner for her family. She makes stir fried chicken and vegetables with rice for she and the boys, and fish for Troy. Troy turns on the t. v. and they watch CNN to find out the latest news about the hurricane’s damage, and it’s not good. Asia switches to a channel that reports about the city to hear and see what type of damage occurred there, and they find out that the city got hit hard. It’s just as her brother said, but the officials seem to clean up faster in the city than the surrounding areas, so they will be allowed travel access. After dinner, the boys do their bathroom and bed routine earlier so they can all hit the sack and get the best rest possible. All except Asia who lays down but doesn’t go to sleep. She remains awake all night listening to her husband lightly snore beside her. When she can no longer keep her eyes open and begins to doze, the alarm clock goes off and it’s time to get up.
Asia rises first and uses the bathroom. While she is showering, Troy walks in and says, “good morning, Babe. How’re you feeling this morning?” “I’m tired, but I must do what I must do”, she says with her voice echoing from inside the shower stall. He continues to talk as he
pees, “are you ready to deal with your brothers?” “Well, not really, but like I said before, I must do what I must do and it is what it is”. Finished with her shower, she pulls the curtain aside, but leaves the water running. Troy hugs and kisses her as she steps out of the tub and he steps in, switching places with her. She dries off, leaves the bathroom and goes to wake up the boys. Junior and Beary use their bathroom, and he dresses himself and his little brother as she gets dressed. Asia then sits the boys down to eat a cold cereal breakfast as she puts on the coffee pot. By now Troy is out of the bathroom and getting ready. He comes into the kitchen, hugs and kisses the boys, and says, “Asia, we need to get money from the Bank. Remember, I never got a chance to go because of the hurricane”. “I know Troy, I hope we can get some”, she replies looking worried and tired. “Don’t worry, you know we just have to put our trust in the Lord”, and he turns around and goes back to finish dressing. Asia thinks she’ll lose her mind if her husband says that one more time. And she asks the Lord for forgiveness because she knows that she must keep the faith and that God really does take care of things, but she’s just not in the mood to hear it right now.
Troy picks up the suitcases and asks if they have everything they need. The boys respond with “yes, daddy”. And Asia says, “I hope so because we’re not coming back home until after the funeral. She and Troy had discussed in bed last night that it made sense to stay in the city until everything is over. They’ll stay at her parent’s apartment in the Bronx, and that’s where they are now headed. Asia picks up her pocket book along with two plastic shopping bags which hold some miscellaneous items and they all leave. Troy locks up good and sets the house alarm. He holds the car doors open for everyone. The boys each tug a bag of their own which has stuff they want to take, get in the car first, Asia gets in after them and Troy closes their doors. He gets in last and before he starts the car, he says a prayer for safe travel, guidance, patience, and strength. They all say “Amen”, as their journey begins.
It should be no big deal for the King family has traveled to the city many, many times, but that was before the curfew. Since then, almost
everything is a big deal and a hassle. And especially today because it’s right after one of the worse recorded hurricanes in history. Several roads still have debris on them and Troy finds himself swerving to dodge broken off tree limbs, fallen trees and a few downed power lines. Now they know why the power is out. He makes it to the bank, and encounters a few cars on line waiting to use the drive through ATM machine. “Do you think the ATM’s are working?” Asia asks. “Yeah, I think so because some banks up here have generators that kick in when the power goes out”, Troy replies. And Thank God he’s right for they are able to get five hundred dollars from the machine. And it could not have been any sooner because a long line of cars are now forming behind them waiting to get money too. Troy and Asia know that God is favoring them because before they pull out of the bank’s parking lot, they see people get out of their cars, and hear them cursing and complaining about the ATM running out of money. The bank itself is closed so everyone is relying on the bank machines for cash. Asia says a, “thank you Lord” as they exit and begin their excursion leaving behind frustrated and bitching people.
Junior and Beary fall asleep as soon as Troy hits the highway, and both Asia and Troy are glad for they realize it’s going to be a longer than usual ride. They hit congested roads with heavy traffic. Asia is mind boggled for she cannot imagine why so many people would be out on the roads after such a horrific storm and she says this out loud prompting Troy to respond with, “they probably have to be out just like us”. Asia thinks, maybe he’s right because she cannot think of anything else, and with that thought on her mind, her eye lids get heavy, she then closes them and falls into a deep sleep. She sleeps for some time for she is tired from not sleeping the night before. Once again she is jolted out of her sleep by Troy slamming on the brakes and the car lurching forward and then backward. Thank goodness she has on a seat belt because her head jerks back and forth. The same thing happens to the boys and upon awakening, she instantly knows that there was some type of accident for that same de ja vu feeling comes over her when
she instinctively puts her hands on the glove compartment for support. This makes her remember the accident they encountered the first day of the curfew, and when something similar to this also happened on the bus.
Asia and the boys wake up to Troy apologizing for slamming so hard on the brakes, but it could not be avoided. She doesn’t care, just as long as they are alright. She also doesn’t realize how long they’ve been on the road until the boys start whining about having to use the bathroom. She then looks at the time and sees it’s twelve o’clock in the afternoon and they left out at eight in the morning. This means they’ve been on the road for four hours and they still have not made it to the George Washington Bridge. A trip that usually takes two hours in the morning has now turned into a five hour one. And now they are in bumper to bumper traffic inching along and the boys have to use the bathroom. There’s really nowhere for Troy to pull over, so using her ingenuity, Asia hands each one of her sons a large plastic container and tells them to urinate in them. They don’t care what they use, just as long as they can pee and they do, right in the containers. Asia says a silent prayer of forgiveness and thanks at the same time, for she is grateful she only has male children, for she would have had a much more difficult time trying this stunt with a girl. She looks over at Troy and asks, “how about you? Do you have to use the bathroom?” “No, I can hold it”, and he replies back, “and you?” “My bladder is used to holding its pee in, remember, I’m a teacher and we don’t get to use the bathroom often”, she responds with a small smile. The rubbernecking continues until they reach the bridge, they cross over and then have to contend with the second worst highway in the city, the Cross Bronx Expressway, until they finally reach her parent’s apartment.
Ms. Sally is in her parent’s apartment when Asia and her family get there. Her brothers are also there for Asia texted and told them she was coming into the city today. Her parents were already taken out and brought to the morgue. There will be no autopsies for it is assumed they both died from old age and natural causes. Her brothers have
already begun making the funeral arrangements and Asia assists with the final details. The only thing is they don’t know where to have the repast and Asia suggests to see if they can have it in the community room downstairs for they are going to need the space to receive a lot of people. When that is finalized, Ms. Sally tells her that someone called her parents number looking for her. Asia curiously asks, “someone called looking for me?” And Ms. Sally says, “yes, but I don’t know who it is”. She continues in her Jamaican accent, “I can play it back for you to listen to”. “Okay”, and Asia is flabbergasted when she hears the message that her childhood friend, Chasity left on her parent’s answering machine. She is so shocked that her hand flies up to and covers her open mouth.
Asia can’t believe she is hearing Chasity’s voice on the machine. It’s been over fifteen years since she last saw and spoke to Chasity that long ago time in front of her friend’s projects. She and Troy were together but not yet married, having gotten married the following year. Asia also remembers how she thought of the Mark of the Beast story as soon as she saw Chasity that day. And another aha moment hits her like a slap in the face, and a punch in the gut. This is why she’s been having the Mark of the Beast dream, and even though she’s been denying it, she knows that Chasity is also having the same dream. Asia wonders if Chasity still lives in the projects across the highway as she writes down the number Chasity left. She has to call her as soon as she can.